On October 27th 7:30pm – 8:30pm (ET)/ Oct 28th 8:30am – 9:30am (JST) Yu Jin Woo, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Law of Hitotsubashi University and a research fellow at Waseda Institute of Political Economy of Waseda University, delivered a lecture about her research on the perceptions of the Japanese public towards citizenship and migration.

Professor Woo’s presentation started by addressing public opinion towards migrants in the political context of Japan. She noted that in recent years, there are more foreigners residing in Japan than ever before. Woo’s research demonstrated that although there still exists a strong sense of ethnic homogeneity in the country, Japanese citizens have become more open towards migrants pursuing long term stays and/or to become naturalized citizens. Woo explained that “assimilationist immigration policies pursued by previous Cabinets stand to limit Japan’s growth on the international stage,” suggesting that future government decisions should focus on consolidating social integration policies for native Japanese citizens and incoming migrants alike.

The talk also focused on the challenges currently affecting the Cabinet’s response to migration, with the largest hurdle being the health and safety challenges incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing current prime minister Kishida’s call for “broader diversity in society”, Woo observed that the position the new Cabinet takes on migration- whether it be ‘open door’ or assimilationist- is key to the next phase in determining how the country will tackle the challenge of an aging and declining population. Professor Woo concluded the presentation with insights from her research that suggest a new, more open era in Japanese immigration policy, highlighting government planning and messaging as pivotal tools necessary to aid this transition.

Following the presentation, a lively question and answer period was moderated by Professor Phillip Lipscy, the Director of the Centre of the Study of Global Japan. Woo answered questions about topics like the demographics of public opinion in her research, the role of education in determining societal norms, and extraneous factors that impact migration to Japan such as available housing and cultural literacy.

We would like to thank Professor Yu Jin Woo for sharing her important research, as well as the virtual audience that was in attendance from around the globe for an engaged Q&A session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full webinar is available for viewing from this link.